My next “Freaks and Geeks” subject moves to the “Freaks” group: Daniel Desario as portrayed by James Franco.

Daniel was another character that was more than he first appeared to be. While he’s definitely a part of the “stoner” crowd, he never goes completely to the point of being a good-for-nothing punk (although he did flirt with becoming a punk rocker in one episode). I always felt as if Daniel could have been a successful and welcomed member of the school if he had just had a few more people encouraging and helping him along the way.

One of the immediate things that becomes apparent about Daniel is that he’s a pretty nice guy. When some of the others are mean, he’s quick to lighten the mood and try to make the person feel accepted. This is most obviously true in his friendship with Lindsay.

Well, I don’t want to delve too deeply into character development or interpersonal history – especially for anyone who is reading this and hasn’t watched the show. I think the best way to summarize Daniel’s character is this scene from the final episode of the series. As a punishment, Daniel has been put into the AV class with the geeks. This intimidating, “cool” kid is now spending time with the outcasts on the other side of the spectrum (and they’re not too keen about it). Just when it seems that the geeks safe haven couldn’t be compromised any further, Daniel is invited to play Dungeons and Dragons… and he accepts!

This is such an awesome episode in that it breaks down the artificial walls that so often separate groups of people. Just as the film “The Breakfast Club” demonstrated that stereotypes don’t have to keep people from becoming friends, this ep provides hope for both the geeks and Daniel – no one has to remain segregated forever.  Bonus points for showing that D&D wasn’t the satanic game it’s too often made out to be (although I’m sure a flashback view of my friends and I playing in high school might have looked similarly geeky).

So here’s my caricature of Daniel Desario